US Salesforce buys Israeli conversation-AI startup Bonobo

Founded in 2017, Bonobo AI helps companies gain insights into customers using AI to analyze phone calls, texts and chat messages; deal estimated at $40-50 million

Shoshanna Solomon is The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

The co-founders of, left to right: Ohad Hen, Idan Tsitiat, Efrat Rapoport and Barak Goldstein (Nitzan Gur)
The co-founders of, left to right: Ohad Hen, Idan Tsitiat, Efrat Rapoport and Barak Goldstein (Nitzan Gur)

US cloud-based software firm, Inc. has acquired Israeli startup Bonobo AI, a developer of artificial intelligence-based software that helps companies glean insights on customers via support calls, texts and other methods of communication.

The insights enable sales teams to spot trends and improve their services to customers.

The firms didn’t disclose the amount of the deal, but people familiar with the matter said Salesforce would be paying $40 million to $50 million for the Israeli startup.

The Tel Aviv -ased firm was co-founded in 2017 by Barak Goldstein, Efrat Rapoport, Idan Tsitiat and Ohad Hen, who assembled a team of alumni from elite IDF technological units, specializing in AI. The startup raised a seed funding round of $4.5 million some six months ago, led by G20 Ventures with Capri Ventures.

“Salesforce’s acquisition of will allow us to expand upon on our vision — driving the Conversational Intelligence revolution and helping companies know their customers like never before,” the Bonobo team said in a blog post, announcing the deal. “We are thrilled to become part of the amazing Salesforce family and continue to the next phase of our journey.”

Founded in 1999 by Marc Benioff, its chairman and co-CEO, Salesforce pioneered the idea of CRM software in the cloud. The US firm, which employs 29,000 workers globally, reported revenue of some $10.5 billion in 2018.

To keep up its growth momentum, the San Francisco, California-based firm is investing heavily in product development and marketing and sales to keep up its growth momentum. It taps into startups and their technologies to stay at the cutting edge of developments, in cloud computing, artificial intelligence, fintech and insurance tech.

Last year the company said it was earmarking $100 million for investments in startups in Europe and Israel via its venture arm Salesforce Ventures, in the field of cloud technologies.

The US firm has already invested in Israeli startups, including CoolaData, OwnBackUp, Checkmarx and CloudLock, and acquired Israeli startups in the fields of artificial intelligence and predictive analytics, Implisit and BlueTail.

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